WASHINGTON – Tuesday, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Member Rep. Jim Banks introduced two veterans-related bills to safeguard taxpayer dollars and close an unintentional loophole that prevents some veterans from receiving a GI Bill refund.
Said Rep. Banks: “Congress has a responsibility to taxpayers to determine whether VA’s construction management has improved before potentially providing billions more in taxpayer dollars, and we have a responsibility to veterans to ensure they get the educational benefits that they’ve earned and are entitled to under federal law.
When we return to Washington after this Veterans’ Day, Congress should vote on both these bills and show we are still capable of bipartisan, commonsense lawmaking.”
Background, VA Construction Management Improvement Act of 2021: The last four medical centers built by VA took an average of 10 ½ years to complete and all were significantly over budget. At the same time, VA projects its capital needs over the next decade at more than $62 billion. The Department operates more than 5,000 buildings spanning over 16 million feet, and the average VA medical facility is 60 years old. New construction is needed, but only if it is managed effectively and responsibly so the dollars invested will produce the modern facilities that veterans deserve.
The bill requires VA to identify operational and policy reforms made since 2016 and issue a report on the reforms’ effect on construction speed, cost, and schedule. Read the bill text HERE.
Background, Montgomery GI Loophole Act: Veterans are currently able to select between the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post-9/11 GI bill which both pay for post-service education. The MGIB specifically requires a monthly fee of $100 for the first twelve months of active duty, which is then refunded as an attachment to veteran housing stipends. Active-duty service members who exhaust their MGIB benefits before transitioning to veteran status are cheated out of their $1,200 because current law ties the refund payment to the final Post-9/11 GI Bill monthly stipend payment, which they cannot receive if their benefits were used up while on active duty. Department of Defense statistics from 2017 show that 70% of new servicemembers still pay $1,200 to keep their MGIB eligibility even though a significant majority later opt to use the free and more robust Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The bill closes this unintentional loophole in current law and ensures that all eligible servicemembers and veterans get their full MGIB refund. The American Legion supports the Montgomery GI Loophole Act. Read the bill text HERE.